A Merging of Art
Practices for the Stage
Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness is a groundbreaking multidisciplinary performance that merges visual art, music, dance, movement, and spoken word to create an urgent new language for collective expression.
Inspired by James Drake’s epic drawing of the same title, Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness is an immersive performance that unfolds in five movements, with a score by renowned composer Gabriela Ortiz, text and lyrics by award-winning author Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and 24 singers from the Grammy-winning chamber choir, The Crossing, conducted by Donald Nally. The multidisciplinary collaboration features stage movement by artist Shaun Leonardo, accompanied by local US military veteran performers from each city in which the project is performed; additional music by master flutist Alejandro Escuer; and a dance ensemble from Houston Ballet Academy. The collaborative performance tells its story from the perspective of “the Earth, the Land, the Soil, the Sand,” which “do not demand our daughters and our sons as sacrifices.” Creators of Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness seek to encourage hope in a dark and divisive time by conceiving a transformational work that is complex, moving and immersed in a throughline that carries us from violence and conflict to healing and forgiveness.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
In each city where Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness is performed, local veterans will be included in the movement component under the direction of performance artist Shaun Leonardo. Exploring themes of violence, war and redemption, Leonardo directs the improvisational movement through a series of prompts that harness the personal wartime experiences and memories of the veterans.
The Crossing Chamber Choir
The Grammy-winning chamber choir, The Crossing, led by conductor Donald Nally, is the most recent addition to the collaboration and will be featured in the world premiere performance on January 20, 2024 in Houston. An intensive workshop with the full creative team and The Crossing will take place in Philadelphia in July 2023.
Dance & Additional Collaborators
Under the direction of guest choreographer Harrison Guy, ten dancers from Houston Ballet Academy will participate in the world premiere performance of Can We Know the Sound of Forgiveness. Additional collaborators include: cinematographer Adam Holender; editor Luke Bern Carr; the Houston Children’s Chorus; and set designer Ryan McGettigan.